Hanover Police struggle to find hit-and-run driver who killed Dakota

Liz Evans Scolforo, 505-5429/@LizScolforoYD

Six months ago, a man driving a white utility van struck 4-year-old Dakota Wright as she was crossing the street, then fled the scene. He has so far not come forward, and no one has led police to him.

Dakota's mother, Ginger Wright, posted a public Facebook message to the killer two days after the little girl's Nov. 22 death.

"I'm sure you will rot in jail when they find you," she wrote. "But I hope you sit day and night and think about my baby girl, broken, bloody, helpless, lying in the road in a pool of her blood. Her dad rushing to scoop her up to try CPR to help ... covered in our baby's blood as they tell us it's too late."

Four-year-old Dakota Wright was fatally struck by a hit-and-run van outside her Hanover home on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.
(Photo courtesy of GoFundMe.com)

Dakota was in the 200 block of Princess Street in Hanover when she was struck at 7:11 p.m., Hanover Police have said.

The little girl had just arrived home with an adult and was crossing the street to her house when the white full-size utility van hit her, police said. Dakota was rushed to Hanover Hospital but couldn't be saved.

The driver, described by police as a white man possibly with a beard, fled east on Princess Street toward Sprenkle Avenue and has yet to be found.

Six months have passed since Dakota's death, and Hanover Police are again asking people to call them with any information about the hit-and-run driver or his vehicle.

"In the days, weeks and months following this tragedy, the police department has continued to follow up on tips and leads but as of now have not been able to identify the vehicle or driver," Hanover Police Chief Chad Martin wrote in an email.

New photo: Police were able to obtain a short video from a private surveillance camera about a block from the scene, which police think has images of the utility truck just prior to it striking Dakota, according to Martin.

"We are unable to verify the identity of the vehicle or its owner due to the quality of the video and time of day," he wrote.

But with any luck, the photo might spark someone's memory about the truck and cause them to come forward with what they know, Martin said.

The white full-size utility van had a ladder rack with an attached ladder at the time of the hit and run, police have said. It also had some type of writing on the side, according to police.

Police said the van in this surveillance image is believed to be the van that fatally struck 4-year-old Dakota Wright and fled the scene on Nov. 22, 2017.
(Photo courtesy of Hanover Police)

No conscience: Ginger Wright discussed her grief on social media at the time, and again last week.

"How the driver can live with the guilt is beyond me. It was our daughter that got hit and killed, and yet the driver doesn't have a conscience," she wrote last week in a public post on Facebook. "I hate not knowing who did this and why they just kept driving. ... This isn't something we will just get over, not now, not ever! We want justice for our baby girl!"

Hanover mother mourns 4-year-old, urges hit-run driver to surrender

Wright has described "Koda" as a "beautiful, spunky, sweet, caring baby," and said her daughter's death left her heartbroken.

"Someone, somewhere knows something," she wrote last week. "Maybe you know someone in a white van that was in the area that night. Maybe you heard someone talk about hitting something that night. Hell, maybe you heard someone talk about it and didn't think it could be."

Dakota Wright, 4, was fatally struck by a hit-and-run utility van outside her Hanover home on Nov. 22, 2016.
(Photo courtesy of Ginger Wright and Facebook)

No matter how unimportant it might seem, the information could be exactly what police need to solve the case, she wrote.

Anyone with information about the utility van that struck Dakota and anyone with information about the driver's identity is urged to call Hanover Police at 717-637-5575 or call 911.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.